Day 6: Tennant Creek – Devils Marbles – Alice Springs.
Another day, another hearty breakfast to set us up for the day. Much of our tour group are raving about the quality of the food that has been included.
As we head further south, the dirt is getting redder and we’re spotting lots of termite mounds along the roadside. This morning we visit Karlu Karlu (or the Devil’s Marbles), another amazing feat by Mother Nature. Over time, wind, water and chemical reactions have shaped these granite pieces and caused them to split. After a good explore, Chris surprised us with a hot coffee and delicious biscuit.
Upon arriving at Alice Springs, we began a tasty afternoon and evening of sampling the local fare! First stop was Alice Springs Brewery for a tasting. This was a great experience, made even better by purchasing a 6-pack of stout to take home with me. Delicious! Tonight, I’d chosen the Outback BBQ as an optional excursion and boy, was it worth it! To start off, the chefs began with damper cooking to prepare our dessert and billy tea. For dinner I had Pole Hereford steak, sausages, jacket potatoes and salad accompanied by a nice merlot and shiraz. Local entertainment was bush music and Aussie rock which was enjoyed by the group, even with an encore!
Day 7: Alice Springs.
Even though we’re nearing the end of our tour, we’re still fitting in plenty of excursions before we leave the NT. Today’s activities were Standley Chasm and the School of Air – both unique experiences that you wouldn’t find anywhere else in the world.
Standley Chasm is about a 40-minute drive away and we were greeted by local guides, Kevin and Colleen, ready to take us for a ‘walk and talk’. A very nature-oriented walk, we were shown many plants and fruits along the way and even tried a berry. The talk part was all about Kevin’s personal childhood experience where he was forcefully removed and put into a camp run by the Church of England. Luckily his tribe was nearby so he could still occasionally see his mother, but this was a rare situation for Aboriginal children. Kevin also educated us on the history of how we have treated the Aboriginal people since Cook arrived – confronting, but so important for us and for future generations to learn about.
The afternoon saw us visit the School of the Air. Begun in 1951, it was the first remote learning establishment in the world! I found it so interesting, and it especially highlights the vast distances in the NT. It’s a fantastic service for children who live on stations, indigenous children, children whose parents work in remote areas, plus children living with disabilities.
One of the many big advantages of group touring was really made apparent to me after experiencing the wonders of Standley Chasm. We were so lucky to be shown around by Kevin and Colleen and be educated on the area. If you came on your own, you would have only see the chasm. A handy tip to remember!
Day 8: Alice Springs – Kings Canyon
Today we made tracks to sand dune country! The Aborigine name for Kings Canyon is Wararka, our last stop before the final destination of Uluru.
An afternoon at leisure so I opted for the scenic helicopter flight over Kings Canyon which was magnificent! I’d highly recommend this. With only 3 passengers per helicopter, you’re guaranteed a view on a very smooth ride.
To wrap up the day, our group were treated to sunset drinks looking out to Kings Canyon which was lovely to sit and chat with everyone about their afternoon’s activities.
Day 9: Kings Canyon – Uluru.
Another early start this morning, but this was purely a personal choice! Nine of our tour group were up at 5:30am to begin our scenic rim walk to make it to the top in time for an incredible sunrise. An early start but well worth it for the views across the rock formations and beautifully coloured flora – a highlight of the trip so far!
We’re staying in Yulara (translated to ‘howling dingo’), a wee township near Uluru for the last 2 nights. We have unexpectedly been upgraded to Sails Resort which is a lovely way to finish our trip!
After lunch we had an orientation tour of Uluru by coach. Did you know that Uluru is the largest smooth-skinned monolith in the world? Wow. Mel also clarified that the climb up Uluru was stopped in 2019 out of respect to the indigenous owners. The owners feel responsible for any climbing accidents, and there aren’t any toilets at the top which causes problems downstream into sacred sights.
A lovely finish to the day with another round of sunset drinks to watch the colours of Uluru change as the sun went down, and a trip to see the fun Field of Lights.
Day 10: Uluru
Our last early start, yet again for an epic view of sunrise over Uluru. More incredible colours as the sky changes, plus a bonus view of Kata Tjuta in the distance. I’d recommend bringing warm clothes for this time of year for the sunrise as it can be quite chilly.
After breakfast back at the resort, it was time to get up close and personal with Kata Tjuta. Translated to ‘many heads’, the 36 natural domes are one of 17 World Heritage listed sites in Australia.
An afternoon at leisure is on the cards, but I chose the optional segway tour around Uluru. This takes 4 hours from pick up to drop off at the hotel and was so much fun! Full safety gear and training is done before we set off around the rock. Getting so close to Uluru was incredible and we stopped often for the guides to talk us through a specific feature.
Sadly, our tour has come to an end, and we ended up with a great farewell dinner at the hotel with Mel. What an experience! We have seen some amazing things on this tour, but Uluru really is the standout. It’s an amazing natural wonder and I’ve found it fascinating to learn about the deep connection with the indigenous people of the area.
If you’re after an adventure in the NT, you can find more information, dates and prices for the Top End & Central Australia tour here.
*Please note that there may have been changes to the itinerary, accommodation or similar since this tour departed.